Inside Pitch Magazine, November/December 2023

Inside Interview: Greg Mamula

Delaware's Deliverance  

by Adam Revelette

Greg Mamula on the field

In Greg Mamula’s first season as University of Delaware head coach, he led the Blue Hens to 30 wins and the school’s first Coastal (formerly Colonial) Athletic Association Tournament appearance since 2018. Delaware’s offense was one of the best in college baseball, averaging 7.6 runs per game. Before his post at UD, Mamula served as an assistant at Florida Atlantic, where he helped the Owls to three NCAA Regional appearances and a pair of Conference USA titles. He has prior coaching experience at the University of Cincinnati, Shippensberg University and West Chester University. 

Inside Pitch: Every school has a niche with recruiting. Do you feel like you’ve found yours at Delaware yet?

Greg Mamula: We knew coming in what type of players and what style of play was needed to be successful given our ballpark, our league. The nuances we need to figure out are more of the geography piece and the ever-changing landscape of the number of high school versus junior college versus portal. The talent level at the junior college level has changed because of the portal, and now you have grad transfers starting to dry up because of the COVID guys being out, and the fluctuation from a 35-man roster to 40. There are so many moving pieces to it, and that’s kind of the fun of it. Things would get stale if it was the same thing over and over, but recruiting is certainly not that.

IP: How do you choose to deal with the transfer portal?

GM: For us, the portal tends to come up in middle/late spring and you’re thinking, “Oh boy, this is a deficiency that we have.” I don’t want us to ever rely on it or go into a fall/winter saying, “This is what we’re going to need out of the portal next summer,” but we’re going to try to fill those holes with talented high school or junior college kids and if we can’t, or when the hole becomes evident during the spring, that’s when we’re going to have to go the portal route.

IP: But how have you overcome the bumps in the road along your coaching journey?

GM: I felt like my journey started off really clean. I was a grad assistant at Shippensburg for three years and then the recruiting coordinator here at Delaware for five years. I got a head coaching job at West Chester and had three successful seasons there. Then I went to Cincinnati, and we lost our jobs because we didn’t win enough games. That was the first major bump in the road. 

I was out of baseball for a year and eventually went down to IMG. I was there for a full year and it was a great experience. Then I caught a break and got hired at Florida Atlantic, where I stayed for seven years. 

IP: Did you always want to be a head coach?

GM: To be frank, I was getting nervous that I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to be a head coach because of my age. When the opportunity here at Delaware arose, it was a no-brainer, having coached here previously and seeing the commitment this athletic department and school has made to athletics.  

IP: What is it like for Delaware in the CAA compared to America East? 

GM: If you look at our outfield wall through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, Delaware was winning conference championships and going to the NCAA Tournament regularly. But since they went [to a regional] in 2001, there has only been one regional appearance, in 2017, so that conference shift is probably not a coincidence.

People know what we have as far as the campus, the academics, the facilities, the amount of money that we pump into athletics. Delaware should be one of the prominent programs in this part of the country. I wouldn't tell you that we have crazy expectations now, but I honestly hope we can change that.

In 2023, the CAA finished with the seventh-highest RPI in Division I baseball, two teams got into the NCAA Tournament, and Campbell just entered our conference this past summer, so it’s realistic that this conference is going to be a three-bid league moving forward. And it’s even possible we move into the top five in conference RPI in the future, especially with the Pac-12 blowing up.

IP: Give me some thoughts on the coaches that you’ve worked for in the past.

GM: That’s one of the neat things about our sport; having the opportunity to work for a lot of different people. You take things from each person, from each program. John McCormack at FAU has been there for 30-some years. His ability to understand roster management and fit for his place is uncanny, and the way he treats people, he’s the master of having no filter and just telling the players exactly what he thinks about them. It’s eye-opening for those freshmen, because they’ve never had a coach be that open and blunt to them, but it’s powerful, and it works, because it’s honest. The older guys just wait for Coach Mac to say something to a freshman just so they can laugh because they were there once, too. Being honest and open with people works!

Brian Cleary at Cincinnati is an exceptional organizer—especially in the office and with his programming. Jim Sherman at Delaware...a lot of what I do offensively is what he did. He was the first guy that gave me a great understanding of offense and team offense at the collegiate level. And Bruce Peddie at Shippensburg was the first guy to ever hire me, and I’ll be forever indebted to him for the opportunity to be where I am today. 
IP: What are you trying to pass along to your current assistants and how do you find them? What are some ways that you look for up and coming coaches?

GM: Having been an assistant so long, I think the greatest thing I can do for them is help them get to their next job. Chris Collazo was our recruiting guy in 2023 and moved on to Pitt. He’s a great coach and we have a very tight bond. We were of course sorry to see him leave but at the end of the day, one of the greatest things I can do is help them advance their careers and if they have aspirations of becoming a head coach, hopefully try to prepare them for that.

As far as where do I get them from? That’s always going to be the relationship piece, where either you know the person or you know somebody that has worked with them. And that’s been the case with all the guys I've hired—I’ve either known them really well or I’ve known somebody else that they’ve worked with that’ll vouch for them. The most important thing to me is the type of human being that they are and how they’re going to treat our student-athletes.
IP: Is there anything in particular that you could share about how you develop hitters?

GM: Every day is different, and we’re gradually trying to make each BP harder and harder, and it’s always competitive. There’s always going to be breaking balls involved. We're charting and ranking the guys daily. And it’s never just strike after strike—the swing decision is always going to be the priority for us. Even with the fastball rounds, we’re going to continually change the elevation of the machines. And if the decision is a wrong one—swing at a ball, take a strike, you get kicked out for that round. 
IP: You were a four-year starter as a player at St. Bonaventure. Is there anything you remember from your playing days that you’ve taken into your coaching?

GM: I’m glad you asked. St. Bonaventure was the perfect place for me. I was able to go and play for four years and have success there. And I felt like the small school, small town, cold baseball weather really fit well with me and my personality just because I love baseball so much. And I felt like I was able just to grow tremendously there as a person and player.

And the mentality of the program at the time—very little funding, very behind with facilities and resources- turned into almost a rallying cry for us. I had a great experience playing for Larry Sudbrook who was tough, but he was the same guy every day. You had no choice in that program but to show up and play hard every day. That’s something I’ve tried to carry into my coaching career—be the same guy every day. The consistency of who you are and being that same coach every day is so important. 

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